Newport Jazz Festival: Newport, RI, August 4, 2012
Carter switched to the alto sax for a slow blues called "Aged Pain." Slowly bending tones, the long and narrow horn invoked a unique tinny sound.
"Walkin the Dog" began with Gibbs' organswelling notes that rose high, and then simmered down to a single tone. Gibbs paused for moment, creating tension, then resumed his layers of sound that moved the music and established an upbeat tempo. Throughout the set, Leonard King, Jr. worked the drums in a skillful and swinging manner. With light shuffles, pronounced accents and thundering runs, King held the bottom down and appeared in the foreground without getting in the way. They closed on "The Walking Blues."
The mid-afternoon saw the Joe Lovano / Dave Douglas "Sound Prints quintet perform at the harbor stage. Lovano's saxophone, always a lush embodiment sounds, and Douglas' smooth, polished trumpet led the group on "Soundprints," "Sprints," and "Full Moon." Highly accessible, there was still a freshness about the sound of the group. The music was coherent and classic, yet far from stale. The back end of the set consisted of "High Noon," "Libra" and "Newark Flash," a dedication to saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who hails from Newark, New Jersey.
As early evening set in, the harbor stage prepared to host a special set at the request of festival founder George Wein. Dubbed "3 Clarinets," Ken Peplowski, Evan Christopher and Anat Cohen spurred a bouncing rendition of Duke Ellington's "The Mooche." The rhythmic, Creole-influenced piece "Listen to the One That Mmakes the Thunder Roll," written by Christopher, preceded Jelly Roll Morton's "Why," which was performed as a duo by clarinetist Peplowski and guitarist Howard Alden. The set featured swing era sounds, including Louis Armstrong's "Swing that Music," the jazz standard "Mood Indigo," and "Ring 'Dem Bells."
Jack DeJohnette closed the quad stage with his second performance of the day. What began as a duo with pianist Jason Moran soon morphed into a seven-piece band. The bandan all-star cast performed several pieces from DeJohnette' Sound Travels (eOne, 2012). Completing the rhythm section were bassist Christian McBride, keyboardist George Colligan, and percussionist Luisito Quintero.
Trumpeter Jason Palmer and saxophonist Tim Ries carved a line, establishing the melody on "Salsa for Luisto." Lionel Loueke scratched and muted chordssliding and bending, incandescent notes flickering, as his guitar danced amid Latin rhythms. The third piece explored Joe Henderson's waltzy "Black Narcissus," and the set ended with more Latin-infused sounds on the bright, punchy "Sonny Lights."
Befitting for Newport, guitarist Pat Metheny closed the main stage. In a performance that drew heavily from his recent Unity Band (Nonesuch, 2012), Antonio Sanchez's impassioned drumming and Ben Williams' probing bass forged a dynamic basis. They deeply mined rhythms, delved in varied directions, and created the foundation from which Metheny's guitar and Chris Potter's saxophone emulsified notes into solos. "Come and See," "Roofdogs," and "Breakdealer" made the set.
In 2012, the Newport Jazz Festival continued its tradition of live, improvisational music, and offered flavors from varying eras. The 3 Clarinets brought swing; James Carter kicked in with hard-driving grooves; Joe Lovano embodied the sweet classic sounds; and John Ellis & Double Wide invoked a modern, artistic melding. In 2012, these were the sounds of Newport. In 2012, these are the sounds of jazz.